Many spectacular spirits are said to haunt 50 Berkeley Square, the “most haunted house in London”: According to legend, the house is so charged with psychic tension, you only need to touch the exterior brickwork in order to receive a tingling sensation that sends shivers down your spine.
The story of the haunted house
50 Berkeley Square is a house in Mayfair in Central London. In the 19th century it became known as the “most haunted house in London”. But where did this reputation come from?
Once the house was home to George Canning, former Prime Minister, until his death in 1827. Next, it was inhabited by a Miss Curzon, until her death at the age of 90. Strange things began to happen when its next inhabitant moved in in 1859. Thomas Myers lived in the house until the early 1870’s. There was rumour that he had been rejected by his fiancée and slowly turned mad. He moved into the attic and slept during the day. He never saw a living soul and walked through the house at night only with a candle in his hand.
Strange lights and noises in the night
The house fell into disrepair and people were scared of the strange lights and noises at night and its mad inhabitant. Myers was even sued by the local council for not paying his rates. When he did not appear in court, the magistrate excused him because he was known to live in a haunted house.
There are stories of many incidents that happened in the house. Especially its attic room was a haunted place. A spirit of a young woman who committed suicide there haunts the house. The girl purportedly threw herself from the room’s window after being abused by her uncle. Depending on who you ask, her spirit either appears in the form of a brown mist or as a white figure.
“Bloody Bones” lives at 50 Berkeley Square
Also, the ghost of a little girl who was killed there by a sadistic servant, is said to haunt the attic. And then there is the tale of a young man who was locked in the attic room and was fed only through a hole in the door, until he died in madness. There were so many tales that it was said that the house was haunted by “Bloody Bones“.
The Mayfair Magazine printed an article in 1879, which stated that a maid had a strange encounter in the attic room that had turned her mad. She was put into in an asylum, where she died. She was said to be the maid of a man and his two teenage daughters. The eldest daughter disliked the smell in the house which reminded her of the animals in the zoo.
A maid was driven insane by a spectral presence
Her fiancé was a man named Captain Kentfield. When he came to visit the house in Berkeley Square, the maid was sent to the attic to prepare a room for him. The household was then terrified by her screams coming from the attic. When they came upstairs, they found her lying on the floor in a coma-like state. She was muttering “don’t let it touch me”.
The maid was not the only one that was driven insane by the ghost in the attic. Apparently a nobleman spent the night in the attic room. He told the other inhabitants that they should only come up if he rang the bell twice in the night. He would only ring once to ease his nerves. So they went to bed and when he rang the bell at midnight, it was ignored. All of a sudden the bell began to ring furiously and the other inhabitants rushed upstairs.
A nobleman wanted to disprove the haunting
He too was so paralyzed with fear that he could not speak. In one version of the story, it was Captain Kentfield who decided to stay in the attic to face the horrifying ghost that had killed the maid. On that faithful night, the other inhabitants heard his screams from upstairs and a gunshot. They rushed upstairs and found his dead body on the floor.
In another version it was Lord Lyttleton who stayed a night in the building’s attic in 1872 because of a bet. Just like in the story above, he fired at something he saw that night. But unlike Kentfield, he did not die nor was he driven insane. He could only find his shotgun cartridges the next morning when he went to look at what he had fired.
Finally, in 1887 two sailors from the HMS Penelope sought shelter for the night by breaking into the now abandoned house. The next morning, one of them was found dead, having tripped as he ran from the house. The other sailor reported that they had seen a ghost, possibly that of Mr Myers.
Where did the stories come from?
Many people did not believe in these ghost stories. A common conclusion was that the neglect of the house had inspired them. Lady Dorothy Nevill wrote in her autobiography The Reminiscences of Lady Dorothy Nevill from 1906, that she was a relative of Mr Myers and that his behaviour was the only scary thing about the house. Sceptics claimed that the stories were made up by writers. The story of the sailors was attributed to Elliott O’Donnell.
Then why the stories in the first place? Why that house?
In season 3 of TV show Whitechapel, historian Edward Buchan tells the story of 50 Berkeley Square. He explains that different things were told and seen because it was all invented and none of the stories were real. DC Mansell is relieved, but then he asks: “Then why the stories in the first place? Why that house?”, to which Buchan only answers: “What a very good question…”
About Philipp Röttgers
Philipp Röttgers (M. A.), born in 1989, is author, musician and writer. He is drummer for PARIAHLORD. Philipp studied »English Literatures and Cultures« in Bonn, Germany. His first book about his favourite band Genesis was published in 2015.
His second book „London and its genius loci – a journey beyond time and place“ was published in 2019. Philipp feels deeply connected to London, more than to any other place in the world. He is an expert in the capital’s (and Britain’s) literature and culture. He is also a „Ripperologist“ (and was already featured in the magazine of the same name) and of 2020, he also lead walks through London. Get in touch via mail for more information.